Gulf of Aden Security Review

A regularly updated review of both Yemen and the Horn of Africa covering topics related to security, governance, and militant activity.

Yemen: Tribal forces retake Shabwah governorate from al Houthis; ISIS claims attack against al Houthis in Shabwah; Anti-al Houthi forces advance in Taiz city

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants temporary seize town in Lamu County, Kenya; al Shabaab retakes Halgan and Wabho in Somalia

Yemen Security Brief

  • Tribal forces retook Shabwah governorate from al Houthi and allied military units on August 15 after the al Houthis withdrew from the governorate’s capital, Ataq, in southern Yemen. Tribal sources stated a military commander loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh made an agreement with tribes to withdraw. Tribes reportedly pledged not to allow al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighters into Ataq.[1]
  • Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) Wilayat Shabwah militants claimed to have raided an al Houthi military site in Ataq, Shabwah, southern Yemen, on August 15. The militants claimed to have captured and killed a number of al Houthis. The timing of the operation indicates the militants attacked around the same time the al Houthis were withdrawing from Ataq.[2]
  • Anti-al Houthi Popular Resistance forces seized a number of government buildings in Taiz city, Taiz, central Yemen, on August 15, after prolonged battles with the al Houthis. The al Houthis remain in control of key brigades in the city but have been significantly weakened by the Popular Resistance’s advance.[3]

Horn of Africa Security Brief

  • Al Shabaab militants temporarily seized Basuba, Lamu County, Kenya, on August 15. The militants forced residents from their homes and preached to them for over an hour before fleeing into the nearby Boni Forest. The al Shabaab members reportedly told Basuba residents that the Kenyan Police is their target and, as long as the residents did not inform the police of the militants’ presence in the town, they would be safe from future attacks.[4]
  • Al Shabaab militants seized Halgan, Hiran region, south-central Somalia, and Wabho, Galgudud region, central Somalia, on August 16, after Ethiopian troops retreated from the towns. The Ethiopian forces seized the towns from al Shabaab over a week ago as part of a campaign to drive the group from its strongholds in central and southern Somalia.[5]

[1] “Anti-Houthi fighters take Shabwa in southern Yemen advance,” Reuters, August 15, 2015. Available:
Mohammed al Kibsi, “Saudi-allied Yemeni fighters progress against Houthi rebels,” The Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2015. Available:
[2] ISIS Wilayat Shabwah via Twitter, August 15, 2015.
[3] “Yemen anti-Houthi forces take Taiz government buildings,” al Jazeera, August 16, 2015. Available:
“Anti-Houthi fighters posed to seize key central Yemen city,” Reuters, August 17, 2015. Available:
[4] “Suspected al Shabaab fighters warn Kenyan villagers to shun police”, Reuters, August 16, 2015. Available:
“Suspected Al-Shabaab militants ambush Basuba Village in Lamu, preach to residents for one hour”, Bar Kulan, August 16, 2015. Available:
[5] “Al Shabaab retakes Halgan and Wahbo,” Twitter, August 16, 2015. Available:


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